Ducks golf takes home national championship

Seth Bolton, Sports writer

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This year Eugene had the pleasure of hosting the Men’s Division one National Championship giving the U of O ducks a home course advantage which they definitely needed with this year’s competition. The Ducks started the tournament in a not so hot manner getting off to a poor start. The Ducks were comprised of five very gifted athletes this year including their five man Edwin Yi, Four Thomas Lim, three Zach Foushee, two Sulman Raza, and their leader Aaron Wise. This team was still to be considered an underdog coming into this tournament. After the first day the ducks struggle to be in the top of the leaderboard but soon enough had some great rounds out of every player and made their way into the top ten on day three then to fifth on day four. At the end of the stroke play part of the tournament the Ducks had already crowned a champion. Aaron Wise had won the individual National Championship title giving not only him but the rest of the team a huge confidence boost moving into the next couple of days.

With only 15 teams left in the tournament the match play rounds had started to begin. For those who don’t know what match play is, it isn’t score based it is just if one player gets a better score than the other on a hole then they go one up while the other goes one down, So it is a game of winning individual holes not who has the best score at the end of the round. The ducks made their way to the quarterfinal and semifinal day in which they had to play 36 holes in one day instead of 18 which was very exhausting to watch so I can not imagine how the players felt. The Ducks clinched the quarter final win in the morning setting up a match with year’s champion Illinois.

The ducks had some problems in a couple of rounds and great success in others as they were up 2-1 with two groups still to finish. In the last two groups was the champion Aaron Wise, who was down 1 with one hole to play and Sulman Raza who was on the 18th green with a five foot putt to send the ducks to the championship round. With the pressure rising Raza made his putt, punching the Ducks ticket and moving them into the championship day. On the last day the Ducks had to face the very difficult and favored Texas Longhorns but with the confidence they had and for how far they had come they knew they were going to bring it home for all of Eugene. Although as the team was about finished it seemed that the Junior Raza was in a similar position to before but was now playing last with more pressure. With the team scores tied 2-2 it was all down to Raza as they were tied going into the 18th hole.  As the two players par the hole an extra hole playoff was next to come. As the two competitor’s completed three playoff holes still tied they came back to the 18th hole where Raza knew he wanted to finish it. As both players hit great drives the title would come down to their second shots. The player from Texas was first to play and he safely hit the middle of the green where a one putt was very unlikely to occur.  Sulman on the other hand hit a beautiful shot into the green with about an eight foot putt to win the national championship as long as the Texas player missed his next putt. As the Texas player hit his putt all the surrounding people stood and stared with blank expressions hoping that the putt wouldn’t go in. As it neared the hole the putt was looking very good and it ran up the green, lipping around the entire hole and missing just by a few inches. At this point all Raza had to do was make his putt and the Oregon Ducks would win their first National Golf title. He stepped up to the putt and the tension arose as Raza hit his putt. For a few seconds everyone stood quiet but suddenly the sound of the ball falling into the cup arose and the Ducks team stormed the green, tackling Raza and celebrating as they had just won the Title. Even though Wise had won the individual, it was Raza who carried the team to victory in the last few days of competition. This was a great experience for me to be able to watch this all first hand and it was very cool that Eugene was able to host this great event. The Ducks truly gave a great Cinderella story to tell as they became the Hometown Heros.

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Ducks golf takes home national championship